Isaiah Thomas Hitting Full Stride At Perfect Time For Surging Celtics

Isaiah Thomas has been very good since the day he first put on a Boston Celtics uniform. On a number of occasions, you could even say he’s been great.

But as the Celtics close in on the final week of the regular season, Thomas has been something else entirely: a full-blown offensive juggernaut.

The point guard, who’s led the Celtics in scoring since joining the team at the trade deadline but looked rusty in his first few nights back from a lower back injury, has found a new gear over Boston’s last three games.

He scored 23 points Friday in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks — his first time breaking 20 since returning from his eight-game absence — another 25 in Saturday’s overtime win over the Toronto Raptors and a season-high 34 on Wednesday, rendering the Detroit Pistons helpless in a 113-103 Celtics win.

That’s 82 points in three games. No other Celtic has more than 39 (Brandon Bass) over that span.

“The last few games, he’s really playing more like himself,” head coach Brad Stevens said after Wednesday’s win, via the team’s official Twitter account. “We don’t need him to get 34 every night, but we need him to be good.”

Thomas’ recent production is the type coaches love, in that the 5-foot-9 guard hasn’t had to monopolize the offense to achieve it. Thomas actually has been remarkably efficient of late: Of his four games with better than 50 percent field-goal percentage since joining the Celtics, three are the ones mentioned above.

Wednesday’s might have been his finest performance yet. Thomas ended the game with three straight misses and still managed to go 10-for-17 from the floor — his second-highest single-game mark as a Celtic. He was a danger from deep (4-for-8 on 3-point attempts) but did the bulk of his damage directly under the basket, slicing and dicing through the overmatched Pistons defense to score either easy layups or trips to the foul line, from which he sank 10 of his 11 tries.

“Isaiah Thomas,” an exasperated Stan Van Gundy said during an in-game interview with ESPN. “We can’t stop him.”

“He was on,” point guard Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “It was one of those nights where guys just played unbelievable, and he came through for us.”

And, in a note that may or may not be worth mentioning, Wednesday was the Celtics’ first nationally televised game of the season, with ESPN flexing out their originally scheduled broadcast of Charlotte Hornets-Toronto Raptors in favor of a key date in Boston’s push for the playoffs.

For Celtics fans who spent years watching the beauty that was national-TV Rajon Rondo, their introduction to national-TV Thomas was a welcome sight and — if the C’s can indeed lock down a playoff spot — a preview of things to come.

Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images

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